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Social Media Response to the US Government Shutdown


Last week, for the first time in 17 years, the US Government shut down as politicians failed to agree over a spending bill. The subsequent shutdown resulted in 800,000 federal workers being sent home without pay, potentially costing the economy $1 billion a week. Understandably this has caused a significant backlash on social media sites which have targeted the US government and their inability to come to a conclusion over the bill.





The stand-off follows the Republicans refusing to approve a budget, saying that they would only approve it if the funding for President Barack Obama’s healthcare reforms, nicknamed ‘Obamacare’, was delayed. Since President Obama was elected, the two parties have never come to a solid resolution on a US budget that lasts for more than a few months, and the Republicans have begun to use the budget deadlines as a way to gain political leverage over policies which are particularly controversial.

The public has been very responsive to the government shutdown on social media platforms, particularly Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, expressing their complaints at how those who have government jobs have been sent home without pay. This provides a great contrast to the last US government shutdown in 1995, 17 years ago. The options that were available to express one’s opinions to the government were much more limited, letters or emails could be sent, or protests arranged but the advent of the modern age of technology allows people a greater ability to interact and express their opinions to the government in a much easier and more instantaneous manner. Twitter has been a particularly popular platform for this form of discussion with popular hashtags like #governmentshutdown and #DearCongress allowing voters to complain to all the 532 members of Congress at once.

Twitter has also provided a popular platform for the public to ridicule the government and make fun of their inability to come to a conclusion over the budget as well as to express their complaints. Hashtags like #ShutdownPickupLines and #TeaPartyShutdown have proved popular among the public, along with the creation of photo gifs and other posts to demonstrate thoughts and opinions on the government shutdown which generally represent it in a bad light. For instance, the photo gif below mocking the US government shutdown and how the Yosemite’s 123rd birthday was ruined by the closure of the US national parks and monuments during the shutdown.


However, it is not only the public who have been using social media to discuss the US Government shutdown. Both the Republicans and the Democrats have used Twitter to express their viewpoints and opinions on the matter. For instance, the Republican Scott DesJarlais showed his anger at the prospect of Obama’s healthcare reforms by tweeting: “Looks like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid decided to shut down the government over a law that over 60% of Americans oppose”. Whereas President Barack Obama is using  his Twitter page as a way to drum up popular support for his party policies tweeting “ ‘Nobody gets to hurt our economy and hard-working families over a law you don’t like’. – President Obama #EnoughAlready ”


However, a number of US government websites and Twitter feeds have been suspended due to the government shutdown, meaning that updates and replies from these organisations will not be seen during this period. US citizens can normally use federal websites and Twitter feeds to send queries to government institutions, however dozens of Twitter feeds, such as those for National Parks and the Statue of Liberty, have been stopped during the shutdown. This shows that not even social media continues to function at all times during the government shutdown and there are limitations in its use to convey a message to the public or its use as a communication tool.



What do you think?


Do you think Twitter and other social media platforms are an effective way of expressing one’s opinions about the US government shutdown?




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Social Media Response to the US Government Shutdown Reviewed by Anonymous on Monday, October 07, 2013 Rating: 5
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